If only…

The National Federation of Independent Business this week unveiled their campaign to promote health reform from a business perspective. What I really liked was their “Faces of the Healthcare Crisis,” a compilation of stories/testimonials of small businesses struggling with health care costs. The stories, not surprisingly, sound a lot like some of the consumer stories we get.

One guy, whose employees largely receive health care through their spouses, did not have insurance of his own. When he had chest pains, he delayed going to the ER. When the pain became excruciating, he finally relented and found he was having a heart attack, leaving him with $200,000 in hospital bills.(!!) Sounds like something out of our story database: uninsured, delayed care, high hospital bill.

We certainly empathize with many of the small businesses who want, very badly, to provide health care for their workers. It’s expensive, and we have bills that can help:

  • Transparency (a la AB 2967 – Lieber, and which NFIB is supporting) allows health care buyers can gravitate toward providers that are effective and efficient.
  • Standardizing and organizing the individual market, a la SB 1522 (Steinberg), would cap out-of-pocket costs, ensure that every plan has doctors, hospitals, and preventive care. This would help give small businesses, who are worried about how much their workers can afford, more peace of mind.
  • Public insurer (SB 973 – Simitian) would allow small businesses to buy coverage from a public system that competes for business with private companies.
  • Anti-rescission (AB 1945 (De La Torre) and various other bills) would make harder for insurance companies to yank coverage from paying policy holders willy nilly.

Of course, (here’s our ‘I told you so’ moment) what would have *really* helped was the 1993 Clinton Health plan, which was defeated with lots of help from NFIB. Through Clinton’s plan, smaller businesses would have only had to pay up to 3.5 percent of payroll costs toward healthcare rather than the 20-plus percent they are now paying in a virtually unregulated market.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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